Local father creates headgear to help protect female lacrosse athletes

Teenage concussions have skyrocketed in our area, and the biggest jump may be a little unexpected.

Concussions in young girls are up a shocking 118%, according to a new report.

After football, would you believe the next most dangerous high school sport is girl's lacrosse? 

Well, a father from our area has just created a game changer.

FOX 29's Karen Hepp got an up close look at his new invention.

Bella is fast and fierce on the field. She carries a big stick and can hurdle anything in her path, landing her on the podium. She's a competitive success in many sports, but, sophomore year, a simple fall in field hockey match nearly took her out of the game.

"What they told me is my brain hit my skull 3 times, forward, back, forward," recalled Bella Pinnero, "I remember not being able to keep my eyes open, and my coaches kept telling me keep your eyes open you can't go to sleep, then they called the ambulance and put me on a spine board off to the hospital."

MRI's and X-Rays revealed Bella had a concussion so severe, she had to sit in a dark room, and miss 5 weeks of school and several months of sports. 

"I was in a fog for such a long time; even after I felt better I was in a fog," Bella explained.

Teammate Kelli Ratkoski has had two concussions. Both times, it was caused by a ball smacking her unprotected head.

"It just like hurts. Everything in your head is fuzzy, you couldn't comprehend what is going on," Kelli explained.

Concussions rates have jumped 118% for girls 10 to 19, according to a September report from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

With the popularity of lacrosse in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have some of the highest rates in the nation.

Girls lacrosse is second only to football for concussions in high school sports according to a 2015 study.

The main reason is a lack of helmets.

The boys wear shoulder pads, gloves, and a huge helmet.

The girls wear a skirt, pinnie, and pretty goggles. No helmet, and nothing to protect their heads when they get whacked with a stick or ball.

"Let's face it, the girls get ignored," Rob Stolkler explained.

Rob's four girls are the center of his world.  He loves two things above all else, Philly sports, and his family. His house is a shrine to both.

Rob wants his girls happy, and safe. When they youngest two asked to play lacrosse, he couldn't believe there were no helmets, and said no way.

"They're strong they're fierce they play hard they play aggressive, I love that, but to not have any protection is just insane," Rob explained.

So he decided to do something about it. He got a team of experts, and created the very first ever approved head gear for girl's lacrosse.

He didn't just pink it and shrink it. The Hummingbird is all new safety technology, that passes every rigorous test and standard.

But, designed for a female athlete, it's got a pony tail opening - and it can be used in other sports too.

They'll ready for holiday delivery, just in time for lacrosse season, and the girls think it's a game changer.

“Sports are amazing but, they're only going to last so long, you do have a future after sports, so it's really important to preserve that future and your head is that future.”

Bella and Kelli think if they'd been wearing this kind of headgear it may have prevented their injuries.

The new headgear is made by Hummingbird Sports, and while the headgear will come in a whole bunch of colors- pink isn't one of them.

http://www.hummingbirdsports.com/

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